The Seiko 6139 automatic chronograph – a historical movement in its own right, like this rare February 1969 Seiko 6139-6000 Japanese Domestic Market (JDM)-only SpeedTimer "Cevert" here – was one of the first automatic chronographs created and ranks with Zenith’s El Primero and Heuer’s Calibre 11.
Back in the 1970’s, Heuer and Zenith had taken hold of the entire sports watch industry by racing to become the first to produce an automatic chronograph. It has been widely debated who won, but in the background of this skirmish, Seiko quietly created one theirs at the same time, beating the Swiss at their own game – the 6139.
Those who know vintage Seiko - in particular 6139 chronograph's - know these early 6139 SpeedTimer's come up for sale rarely, in particular the early models like this one here. We have seen 6139's dating back to January 1969, indicating Seiko beat all other rivals to produce the world's first automatic chronograph. Period.
Fast forward to late 2018, and Seiko enthusiasts were treated to the discovery that the early 1970s famous F1 racing bad boy Francois Cevert wore one while racing, hence the moniker "Cevert," which caught on in collector circles quickly.
The 6139 was the first chronograph to have a vertical clutch, a feature considered by many to be one of the hallmarks of a superior automatic chronograph movement. The 6139 features a single register chronograph allowing time to be measured in increments of 30 minutes, and also features an automatic column wheel timing control, vertical coupling mechanism, and is an integrated chronograph – the first in the world – which means the entire 6139 movement was designed and built to be a chronograph, vice being an automatic movement with a mere timing module added.
With this movement, Seiko set the standard, which was followed by the Swiss watch industries 20 years later. The same movement configuration was adopted by Rolex when it made its own in-house movement for the Daytona in 2000, 30 years after Seiko released the caliber 6139 and 6138.
This 6139 includes a dark red leather rally strap, nylon NATO strap, springbar tool, and Pelican travel case.
February 1969 Seiko 6139-6000 SpeedTimer "Cevert" Chronograph
DIAL: Original dark blue SpeedTimer and proof-signed dial. Day/date complication – with Kanji Japanese/English variants – at 3 o’clock position works as designed. Atypically, hour and minute hands do not appear to be match in color, suggesting they were replaced at some point - that said (and if so) this was early in this SpeedTimer's life, as lume has aged evenly with dial hour indices.
CASE: Original 41mm x 43.5mm stainless steel case. Case lines are sharp, with notch above recessed crown; original caseback. Original inner tachmeyer rotates smoothly as designed.
CRYSTAL: New Seiko 6139-correct Hardlex crystal, no scratches or blemishes.
BAND: This 6139 comes with a brown leather rally strap, with stainless-steel hardware. This 6139 also comes with a blue, red, and gray nylon NATO strap.
MOVEMENT: Original 21-jewel Seiko 6139A automatic movement, manufactured in February 1969.
CROWN: Original recessed unsigned stainless steel crown.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHERS: Chronograph pushers depress with a satisfying click, and reset to zero.